This week has represented a huge change. I've made a major shift from...
avoid. avoid. avoid. avoid.
For the past 18 months or more, I've been avoiding doing something that I actually really want to do - but has felt too scary, too vulnerable: video.
The reality is, that the very few video pieces I had out in the world have had a big impact on people near and far, and that's something I believe in. I believe in telling my story so that others can see themselves in it. Can relate. Can understand that we all have fear. We all wonder if we're good enough. We all go through the same things and if we shared our experiences more, maybe we'd all really believe that we're not alone.
But, I have been avoiding. I've had the camcorder, the tripod, the list of topics and the good intentions. At one point, somewhat under personal duress, I recorded around 10 videos... shortly after the hard drive on my laptop crashed and my un-backed-up videos were lost. The idea of starting over was too much. I couldn't bring myself to do it. So I put the camcorder away and avoided. And avoided. And avoided some more.
But recently I approached a turning point. I knew I had to decide.... was I going to do the YouTube/Video thing - or wasn't I? I made the decision and, the very next day, the camcorder went with me to the studio for my first attempt at filming myself.
And, surprisingly, something changed. This time, I felt ready.... terrified beyond belief, but ready.
I started out just playing with stuff that came to the top of my head. And in that process, my first video was borne - one talking about vulnerability.
Because, let's face it - those first couple videos are the most vulnerable points in my own life.
Putting myself on display has always been hard for me. I've gotten used to the idea of being "on display" as a Yoga teacher. It helps to be so very passionate about what I do and the message I offer. But allowing myself to be analyzed, watched, commented on, and picked apart by total strangers? It doesn't get any scarier. I'm already picturing hundreds of hateful comments in my head and wondering how I will react as strangers pass judgement on my physical body or on my work.
But in reality, those haters have always been there. And in between and around them, are people that need to see more representation in the world... people, young and old and everything in between who need to KNOW that they are good enough exactly as they are. People like me. People like you. People who want to see that it's okay to inhabit the space your physical and energetic self takes up in this world, proudly. People who can say out loud "I'm enough, as I am."
And in order to do that, I gotta be vulnerable. So, not to get all meta on you or anything - but my first video in my new Yoga Bytes series is about VULNERABILITY because I've decided I'm gonna ROCK my vulnerability. How about you rock yours, too? ;) If you're committed, click to tweet it out! <3
Yoga Bytes that follow will range from talking about that tricky Low Lunge transition or better alignment in Downward Facing Dog to opening up about why I call myself The Fat Yogini, and sharing my thoughts on fear and life and why I am so passionate about this work.
You can watch these videos in multiple places. If you want to comment on and interact with me about the video, then you'll want to watch the video on YouTube (shown below). If you click the YouTube button on the video itself, it will take you to YouTube where you can give the video a thumbs-up (please do!), leave a supportive comment or ask a question (I'll respond!), or subscribe to my YouTube channel.
I am also hosting these videos, called Yoga Bytes, on my studio website. So to watch them there, just click here. And I'll be sharing on Facebook as well if you follow me there.
And so now, without further adieu.....
I'm so excited that the studio has come to be!!
We're open. We have classes. Things are happening! It's AMAZING!
Seeing this become a reality is a dream come true. And I have to admit that it feels pretty amazing to be surrounded by others who are passionate about this space and what we're creating that is so different from what has been done before.
Life feels like it's full to bursting with great things. There's been a lot of fear about making this step - and yet I couldn't be more grateful that I made it. And I couldn't have done it without my wife, Peggy, who has been so supportive and so helpful with looking at the bigger picture from a business perspective and helping to set the studio up for success. Forging new territory the way that we are comes with a lot of challenges. We don't fit the existing mold so we're making a new one. And for someone like me who likes to color inside the lines, this is no easy task!
But I'm confident that we've created and are continuing to create truly honours the Body Positivity mission: to make yoga accessible to every body.
This last weekend was the kick-off workshop in the Introduction to Body Positivity Yoga series and I have to admit that it was such a wonderful feeling seeing so many brave women taking a chance on me and what I had to offer. It's not easy getting the nerve to go do something new, in a new space and many of the students who find me and the studio come with a lot of trepidation. What if they really can't do it? Will they feel out of place or will they "fit in"? Will it really be for them?
And the best feeling in the world is the huge smiles that spontaneously erupt on their faces when they realize yes... they ARE welcome. yes... they DO fit in. yes... this space IS for them.... and yes... they CAN do it!
That is what makes it possible to push through any of my own anxiety or fear, any of my concerns about not "fitting in" in the broader yoga community, any of my fears of failure. Every single one of those smiles make it all worth while and proves that I'm doing exactly what I should be doing.
A couple of days ago, I stumbled across this quote by Julia Cameron, and it resonated with me so deeply!
My journey into, and through Yoga began with secrecy... something I was afraid to admit. And the more I embraced it, the more its gifts began to unfold.
My journey to becoming a Yoga Teacher similarly began from this place of secrecy (which, in this case, was just another word for fear). I was afraid to admit I was practicing Yoga 13 years ago. And I was afraid to admit that my dream was becoming a Yoga Teacher.
And yet, here I am.
How did I get here?
I faced my fear. I faced my fear of failure. I faced my fear of "not being taken seriously" (that one I still face somewhat regularly). I faced my fear of ridicule. But most of all, I faced my fear of my Self.
And just as the quote says, once I did face my fear - the rest has been surprisingly easy! My passion for Yoga (the practice and teaching) shines through everything I do. My passion for body-acceptance and self-acceptance is my guiding light. Most excitingly, every day I get on my own mat or the mat at the front of a class of students, I learn a little more about myself.
Teaching Yoga as a path to body-acceptance truly feels like my Dharma. It feels like my destiny. And all the work involved in building this absolutely DOES feel like play. How cool is that?
And to think...
If I had never faced my fear and admitted my dream, I wouldn't be here. Living it. That's something to be truly grateful for.
What are you afraid of? What path would you follow if you weren't afraid to admit it's what you truly want?
Lately, I feel as though I've been talking about things like fear and courage an awful lot.
This isn't an accident. These themes are very present in my life right now.
When I walked away from the day job to pursue my Yoga Teaching dream, I had no idea how terrifying it would be. Well, actually, I take that back. I was terrified even then. The reality is that in a million (zillion?) years, I never would have thought that I would become an entrepeneur of any variety, let alone a Yoga teacher. And yet, that's what I decided to do. Talk about facing my fears head on! Since making the decision to see how far this dream can take me, though, I've had no regrets.
To be afraid, terrified even - but still know that what you're doing is exactly what you're supposed to be doing? That's heady stuff.
But something amazing keeps happening...
Just when I am most afraid or nervous or feeling the most like a big fraud, one of my students will say something to me that will completely blow me away. I had a moment like this during my last Sunday class. One of my students got into a pose that I'm sure she never thought she could or would. It made me want to cry (happy tears) to see the huge grin on her face. I know she surprised herself in the most awesome way! All I could think about was how inspiring the whole class had been - how great it had felt to lead these powerful, beautiful women in practice. It felt like such a gift. But after the class, she gave me the greatest gift of all. She told me that one of the things she loves the most is that just when things seem really hard, she just has to look at the big smile on my face and it doesn't feel so hard any more.
It wasn't the fact that she complimented me that blew me away. It was the simple truth of her words that brought home WHY doing this is so important to me, why I am so passionate about it.
I see my students the way I want to be seen. I see them for their power and their struggles and their beauty and their triumphs and even their sorrows. I see their vulnerability and their grief and I see their fear and all of it is reflected in my own life, my own journey and I like to think that the way I teach Yoga is the way I love to feel: like a big ol' genuine affectionate hug and a whisper in your ear "You can do it. I believe in you. You're amazing!"
I worry sometimes that my random squeals of delight and pride halfway through my class might put people off. That when I stop and clap my hands and excitedly say "LOOK AT YOU! This is AWESOME!" that maybe it's not quite the "yoga vibe" that people expect... But it's who I am.
And as the quote above so eloquently says... it is not my job to worry whether people like me or not. It is my job to be there for them. For you. For the people who are coming to me for whatever it is they get from the class. Whether it's physical, spiritual, emotional, more, or all of the above.
And no matter how scared I get. It is those moments that I absolutely live and breathe this Yoga for. The moments when I am reminded that somehow, in some small way, I can make a difference. I can make someone feel seen... heard... accepted.... even loved.
That is what makes it easy to face any fear that may come up, any insecurity. You. All of you. Thank you for being so freaking amazing.
See you on the mat!
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
This felt particularly poignant for me, today. As I move forward on this journey, each step seems to feel more terrifying than the last. As much as it is frightening, it is also joyful and exhilarating and wonderful. But this is really a metaphor for life.
It is when we are about to embark on the most exciting, happiest, most wonderful things in our life that we are most likely to pull back, to hesitate, to retreat, to run. And often that is because the idea that things could be so beautiful - could shine so brightly is absolutely overwhelming.
I am so grateful. To my teachers. To my students. To my friends. To my family. Your support, love, and faith helps me tap into my own inner courage and strength and keep walking this path. Which is, by the way, pretty amazing.
Isn't it odd how one can get hit by the biggest wave of insecurity ever - just when things are actually going pretty well?
I never in a million years thought I would be a Yoga teacher one day. I also never thought I would own my own business (me? an entrepenur? no way!). Yet, here I am.
I'm living my dream! And doing that makes me so happy and grateful.
But it also is difficult beyond measure. Not only am I putting myself very much on display for the world (especially now that I'm getting ready to start filming stuff for YouTube), but I am also very aware that I could totally fail at this! And I'm sure if there's one thing all entrepreneurs, teachers, and coaches have in common it is the fear of failure.
I've struggled with insecurity a lot over the years. And no matter how confident I think I am about Yoga and teaching Yoga, this work still challenges me deeply.
When I stumbled across this Steve Furtick quote last week, it immediately became the theme of my classes. It's so true, isn't it? We do compare all the little details and mis-steps and out-takes of our own life with the stuff other people present to the world! And all the while we forget that each person has their own out-takes and bloopers and behind-the-scenes stuff that we don't get to see.
It's really not fair, is it?
This is where comparison always gets super sticky. Because comparison is never real. It's easy for me to look at other Yoga teachers and feel like I must be doing something wrong - because what I do as a Yoga teacher is SO different! There are a few other Yoga teachers in the world doing the type of work I choose to do but even among us there are many differences. There really is no road-map. And, in a way, that's exciting and glorious because I can pave my own way. But the part of me that craves security finds that kind of terrifying.
A recent example of this is my retreat planning. You see, I had it in my head that I had a rather ambitious goal to plan my first Yoga retreat for the summer/early fall of 2014. I thought that was an aggressive goal since most Yoga teachers wait several years before offering their first retreat. But, when I mentioned to my Sunday morning students, in passing, that I was hoping to do a retreat next year - one boldly inquired, "Why not this year?".
I think my jaw must have hit the floor. I'm pretty sure I sputtered. It was not a graceful moment y'all. Especially when other students chimed in excitedly about the idea of a retreat THIS year.
But it really was awesome in an epic kind of way. My students want a retreat this year, not next year. I was holding back - afraid to rush things, but they were ready. Who knew??
It's because of that conversation that I just took a major leap of faith and put down a (rather large) deposit on a property for my first ever Body Positivity Yoga Retreat for THIS September. (FYI - I'll totally be linking that to my retreat page once the details are up, hopefully later this morning).
But I digress.
The point, here, is that it really comes down to remembering that what each of us has to offer the world is so different that comparing ourselves to others is really rather futile. We each have gifts. We each have fears. We each have our own things we struggle with in our lives - and we each have our own dreams. What purpose is truly served by comparing?
For myself, this is a work in progress. But I'm learning, slowly, that being wildly and boldly myself no matter what others are doing is one of the best things I can do for my own well being. What about you?
My life has been busy and tumultuous lately in some really wonderful and amazing ways. But, as I've mentioned before, even good things can be terrifying!
What I really find is that the more that I step into new territory in my life, and as a teacher, the more wondrous everything becomes. Of course, with the wonder comes growth, and fear.
It's easy to talk about being brave or about being excited for new things that you know will challenge you. But as those things draw nearer, the instinct is still to pull back, to withdraw, to hide, to avoid, to procrastinate, and to do whatever it takes to get back in the comfort zone where you know exactly what will happen next. At least, that's the case for me. And I know that when I find myself in that situation, those are the precise moments when it is most critical for me to hold my ground, to step forward instead of retreat.
I read somewhere that courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the actions one takes even though one is afraid. This is where the magic happens, if you ask me. I know I say that a lot - about the magic happening where things get tough, but it's so true!
So while I've been talking about the steps I'm taking to pursue my dream, my passion for Yoga - and while I've had lots of honest things to say about how excited I am for this new future I am crafting, I am also shaking in my boots.
It's been one thing to plan, to talk, to dream, to take action. Yet another as deadlines and new beginnings loom nearer and nearer. I said to my wife, recently, that it feels as though I've been talking and planning this big leap and so I've gotten used to that part. But now that I'm getting closer to it, I feel like the parachute is strapped on and I'm in the plane as we are gaining altitude and, well, there's a big difference between planning and being THIS close to jumping.
I've made a decision to move away from the familiar and toward the unfamiliar. The groundwork has been laid. Now, all that's left is to reach altitude, and jump.
Before I get there, I know that I will have made peace with my fear. No one is going to have to push me out. I'll be stepping into the unknown of my own will - and the second I do, I know that my Self will be forever changed.
At 10,000 and climbing...